Fifteen-year-old Sarah Jane Beaver disappeared from her Indiana home in April of 1876, and remained at large until late July, though there were sightings of her with Shepherd Cox, the landlord, in Texas. About four weeks after her return, her mother "discovered that the daughter was in an interesting condition". Sarah Jane named Cox, who was there during the conversation, as the responsible party. Shortly after this conversation, Mrs. Spencer said, she discovered a bottle with a few drops of oil of tansey -- a popular abortifacient -- in it. When confronted, Cox reportedly admitted that he had bought it for Sarah Jane. After more suspicious goings-on, Sarah Jane took sick, and the next night expelled her dead baby. Mrs. Spencer said she sent for Dr. Duncan, who could not come until the next Wednesday, October 25. Duncan said that Sarah Jane had not miscarried but had undergone an abortion caused by instruments of some sort, used with force. Mrs. Spencer was able to show the fetus to Duncan. It was about three and a half months old.
Dr. Duncan continued to provide care to Sarah Jane, at first expecting her to recover, but her condition deteriorated. Sarah made a deathbed statement to her doctor, but after repeatedly refusing to name her abortionist, told Dr. Duncan, "I did it." With more questions, Dr. Duncan finally got, "He did it, with instruments." Sarah Jane died the following morning.
Cox was indicted for murder in December, 1876. He fled to avoid prosecution. Eventually his attorney negotiated a deal for him to return for the trial but remain free on bail of $3,000. He was also able to negotiate a change of venue, so that the trial took place in Hancock County.
After a trial with many conflicting witness testimonies, it took the jury a full day of sparring to come back with a verdict of not guilty.
Fast forward. At 11 AM on October 17, 1947, Dr. Paul Singer, a gynecologist, called police and reported that a woman had come to his office suffering from an incomplete abortion.
He said that he had taken 22-year-old Jane Ward, heir to the Drake Bakeries fortune, to Park East Hospital, where Dr. Oswald Glasberg, a plastic surgeon, had helped him to complete the abortion. Jane died on October 28, and the autopsy confirmed the cause of death as criminal abortion.
After the death, Singer and Glasberg were arrested and released on bail. The baby's father, Eduardo Schneidewind, a trade promotion executive for a South American government, was questioned as a material witness but was never indicted. Dr. Alejandro Ovalle, an X-ray technician, was sentenced to one year after pleading guilty as an accessory, having profited from abortion referrals. Singer was convicted of manslaughter in Jane's death, and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. The judge, Francis L. Valente, said that Jane had been subjected to "surgical mayhem," and that Singer and Glassberg were "completely devoid of human feeling and decency."
Glassberg was also convicted and sentenced to prison, but was never sentenced because six hours after the verdict on June 14, 1948, Glassberg committed suicide in his cell, having poisoned himself.
Now fast-forward to the halcyon days of safe, legal abortion. On October 9, 1993, 25-year-old Giselene Lafontant underwent an abortion by a Dr. Scher at Gynecare in Monsey, New York. She was 9 or 10 weeks pregnant. Within 20 minutes, Giselene had no pulse. She was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and placed on a respirator. Efforts to save her life failed; Giselene died on October 28.